Four Ways to Wear a Dress by Gillian Libby

Millie has just lost her PR job in NYC. She really thought this would be her big beginning, when she would show her parents that she’d really become an adult. But alas, once again, in spite of her warnings to the company that their product was impractical and overpriced, they were forced to make cuts – and that included her. So, at least for now, she is going to take her shared, “good-luck” little black dress that her friends are foisting upon her and move out to California, where the final member of their posse, Quincy, is living, helping to run their family-owned hotel. What Millie finds is that Quincy and her friends, social media influencers hoping to bolster the businesses of their tiny coastal town, are living a dual reality: one that is on social media and one that is real life. As Millie tries to find her own way, she has to navigate this duality for herself and figure out where – and if!- she fits into this picture.

My initial reaction to this book for this blog’s purpose is to tell you not to waste your time.

The bulk of this story, which is predictable in almost every way, revolves around the superficial world of social media influencers, which is distracting, disingenuous, and really all about the money. Even the children here are trained to stop suddenly – right on cue, even mid-sibling-rivalry-argument – long enough to plaster lovely smiles on their faces for uploadable photos in a very contrived-but-meant-to-look-natural setting. Any admission of an imperfection is shameful, any hint of real-world troubles is deemed unacceptable. When Millie arrives and begins to be publicly genuine, posting her mishaps and actually getting attention for it, she gets admonished by the local “queen bee.”

That is, of course, the message, though. It is a comment on social media and its influencers. It is a critique of the idea that we must only put our best selves – or a version of ourselves that is “perfect” out there for others to see, and never admit that we are imperfect, or actually human.

But I would suggest that that isn’t good enough. I would suggest that maybe we might not publicize so much of ourselves at all. Maybe we could just be actually living more of our lives; being mindful of, rather than posting, every meal we consume, every outfit we wear, every experience we enjoy. Maybe also, we could be watching less of what others are doing. Certainly research supports this: that is, the more time we spend on social media, the more anxious and depressed we are.

So while the book is not necessarily a worthwhile read, it does get one thinking… which always has value. Lucky for you, I saved you the trouble! You’re welcome! 🙂